How to make millennials happy at work

Millennials are notoriously difficult to manage and hard to please – at least that’s what plenty of articles and blog posts from older executives argue. But what do they actually want from their employer?

Millennials want a job that gives them a sense of purpose and may be willing to take a reduced paycheque to get it, according to research by consultancy firm Global Tolerance. It’s thought that start-ups in particular can offer them this. They’re likely to be less bureaucratic than large corporations and give employees the opportunity to shape the business and the direction it takes.

But are young workers happiest when working for start-ups? We asked past and present start-up employees to share their experiences.

Steven, works for a fin-tech start-up

“No two days are the same. I love the unpredictable nature of the job. Of course this can have its downsides, but as a very small and close-knit team it always feels like we’re there to support each other and are pulling in the same direction. I don’t think you’d get this from working for a larger company, where you’d be one of hundreds, if not thousands, of employees. Plus you could go a whole day without speaking to a colleague or your manager, let alone not seeing the impact you’re having on the organisation.”

What would make him happier: “We started using Slack and Trello last year to keep on top of project management. It’d be great if the founders were as committed to using it as the rest of the team.”

Elisa, previously worked for a photography start-up, now works for a charitable foundation

“I joined not long after graduating – I had experience running a photography project alongside my studies, so it was a sensible move. What persuaded me the most was the opportunity to work events and travel abroad.

“It felt good to be part of a young team and working in vibrant environment, but ultimately I realised that the end goal and what the company was setting out to achieve got lost along the way. It came to a point where I was no longer engaged with what they did.”

What would have made her happy: “Fewer long and unsociable hours, particularly when covering events. Or if they have to be worked, being recognised for doing so.”

Alice, works for an ed-tech start-up

“The team is nearly all-female and that can be really quite empowering.

“Having worked with plenty of men in part-time roles, I find that their testosterone often gets in the way and clouds their judgement. They might think they have a great idea, which is actually pretty poor, but they’d be so committed to running with it, to the point that they would be oblivious if they then ran the company into the ground.”

What would make them happier: “Having disagreements is inevitable, so to be better at learning when to step back and take a break, and not let bickering affect team harmony.”

Jacob, worked for a publishing start-up, now in academia

“I left simply because the management structure was poor. A couple of my colleagues there were good friends with the founder and at times it seemed like they’d been brought on board to curry favour, rather than for their experience and what they could bring to the team.

“It made it awkward for the rest of us. If one of the friends had made a mistake or wasn’t pulling their weight, and it was going unnoticed, we were hesitant to bring it up. The concern was that the boss would pass it off and take no further action.”

What would have made him happy: “Boundaries and clearly defined roles.”

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Please see for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.


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